The first Tibetan Buddhist nunnery in North America was consecrated in Lincoln on Sept. 11. On a day which marks a violent act of aggression in the name of religion, it is a promising commitment by a religious community dedicated to Peace Practice and Service.
Abbess Khenmo Drolma refers to the Vajra Dakini Nunnery as a monastery for women and compassion college.
His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, head of the Drikung Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism, conducted the ceremony. Also consecrated was the White Tara shrine, built earlier this summer at the Peace Village. A parade featuring music by the Vermont Ukulele Society escorted the White Tara statue where it was installed in the shrine dedicated to her. White Tara is the healing and long-life female emanation of the Buddha.
Welcoming His Holiness were Khenmo Drolma and other religious notables, including Rev. David Wood, pastor of the United Church of Lincoln, and Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo, Native American Elder and Buddhist master. Rev. Wood welcomed both His Holiness and the nunnery to the community, making reference to the need for peace and cooperation among the world's religions that this particular date emphasized.
His Holiness also noted the concurrence of the Consecration and the anniversary of Sept. 11 attacks on World Trade Center and the Pentagon, calling for peace and reconciliation among those of different faiths. He described the role of launching a Buddhist nunnery in the west toward this purpose. He also praised the groundbreaking event of a nunnery in establishing a greater part for women in Buddhist traditions around the world, Americans being particularly open to the participation of women in all public activities.
Khenmo Drolma is the first woman and first Westerner to hold the office of Abbess in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition.
Attendees, both lay people and monastics, came from Europe, Quebec and Ontario in Canada, and all across the U.S. for the five days of activities beginning with Thursday's teachings for monks and nuns and ending with a Long Life Prayer offered by the Vajra Dakini community to His Holiness. In addition to the consecration, His Holiness gave teachings for lay Buddhists and the general public on Thursday and Friday. His Holiness met with members of the Burlington Tibetan community who were present on Saturday. Sunday's events included giving both the White Tara Empowerment and bestowing Refuge Vows on several of those attending. Taking Refuge Vows is the first step of making a commitment to Buddhist practice.
For local Buddhists this marks the second visit of His Holiness, who escaped Tibet in 1975 after suffering the Red Communist Cultural Revolution to reeestablish the Drikung lineage. This heritage had been nearly obliterated since the Chinese occupation of Tibet and systematic destruction of the monasteries. The last time His Holiness visited Vermont was 11 years ago when he dedicated the nunnery to White Tara and named Khenmo Drolma to lead it.
Buddhists feel fortunate to have these two formidable teachers in their midst. Receiving teachings, blessings and vows from a high level lama like His Holiness is what compelled so many to travel so far.